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A call to transition to a post-oil world

Photos of Village Vancouver, the official "hub" for Vancouver's transition movement.

The following column is by Lee Brain, whose famous presentation opposing Enbridge's oil sands project was covered in a Vancouver Observer story, "Oil executive son's testimony at Prince Rupert Northern Gateway pipeline joint review panel". 

It is clear in these times that we are on a slow, steady decline towards an inevitable path of resource depletion, climate change and rampant global economic instability. We are attempting to infinitely grow within a finite system of natural resources. With a population of seven billion predicted to rise to 9.5 billion by 2050, and global resource consumption doubling every two years, there is simply not one argument that can trump these facts anymore.

And with nearly every aspect of our lives dependent on the global economic system, I could go on stating the ‘whys’ of it all – peak oil, petrochemical corporate greed, the military industrial complex, this fact, that fact – the real fact is, we are beyond the ‘why’, and don’t need any more information to know one simple truth: we must change our path while we still have the resources to do so.

It may be that we are doomed as a planet, and that we may not be able to stop this train that we are on. But I refuse to sit here and throw the towel in and allow bitterness to enter my veins and armchair criticisms to rule the day.

That’s why I got involved with the Transition Movement. The Transition Movement aims to create resilient communities that have the adaptive capacity to respond to the challenges of peak oil, climate change and global economic instability.

Simply put, it is about entering into a process of transitioning off the dependency of fossil fuels.

Through a series of phases that build upon each other, it is a procedural framework that invites communities to take a journey into the unknown future.

Grounded in permaculture design, proper community facilitation and effective group process – the intention is to "unlock the collective genius of a community" by creating spaces for conversations to occur around topics of sustainability and local resilience. Community members collectively design an “Energy Descent Action Plan” which seeks to create a timeline into the future people truly wish to live in.

It is about trusting that the whole community has the answers to co-create systems that will sustain them for many future generations.

The power of this movement comes from inclusion, diversity and community ownership over the process. The structure is flexible and intuitive enough to suit the unique needs of individual communities, and acts as a template for large scale community transformation.

In full fruition, communities create working groups (that they define) on topics such as local food, energy, waste, economics, health, education, heart and soul, transportation, arts, housing, local government liaison, etc – and representatives from these groups meet to coordinate their projects and initiatives towards a greater overall vision for the entire community.

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